Stumped; No Poker Face Here

QUICK SHOTS, Stumped; No Poker Face Here

Assignment: Get front page “art” from a checkers tournament at the senior citizens center.

Wow….OK, that’s a pretty typical photo assignment when you are small town newspaper photojournalist in middle America. That’s where a lot of us start and where a lot of us end up our careers. And, there is nothing wrong with that as long as you don’t back slap our profession and the readers by blowing off the assignment and missing an opportunity to record some really nice moments.

No Poker Face Here; The mouth says it all. He's stumped.

First, as a young photojournalist fresh out of journalism school in the mid-1970s, I had to ditch the attitude that such mundane assignments were beneath my newly minted degree.

Then I set out to use one of our most useful tools in our photojournalists’ toolbox which is “people watching.”

I perched myself among the tables with a long lens and waited for the attention on me to drift back to the checker boards. In situations like this, I just sit there, smile, answer their questions if needed and in time people will become bored with your presence and you can get on with the business at hand.

In this case, the hat blocking his eyes helps to focus attention on the player’s mouth which says it all; he’s stumped.

John S. Stewart

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